Sunday, October 14, 2007

change

In my Buddhist studies, the current topic is change and
impermanence. In fact impermanence is quite a profound topic of
reflection, because if you really understand it, Sogyal Rinpoche will
say, you will let go of all grasping. On a more basal level, I have
been dealing with quite a lot of change in my life lately: physically,
in being suddenly handicapped, and now learning to dance again, but
also mentally, in realizing that I am starting to reach the end of my
graduate studies. It is as if I have to think about flying out
again. But obviously, both the flying out on the level of my life, as
well as the flying away in dancing (learning to wear pointe shoes
again!), require a tremendous amount of hard work. Yet on the other
hand, doesn't everything in life that's worth it require hard work?
And yet all the while realizing that the outcomes of all that work
can, and most often will, be different than you ever envisioned. So
accepting change is also realizing that circumstances will change
beyond your control, so you have to try hard but expect nothing.

Quite a different dimension of change comes from a book I am currently
reading, which is called "All
is change"
. The book is about the contacts between Buddhism and
Christianity over the course of history. It contains some tantalizing
ideas. For example, there should have been a lot of cross-talk between
Christians and Buddhists in the 10th century, and in fact Christian
heretics, like the Cathars might have incorporated some Buddhist
teachings through the Manicheans. Isn't it tantalizing that where the
Cathars used to live, in the Languedoc in France, there is now a dense
population of Buddhist monasteries and temples? Another interesting
hypothesis was that the development of Mahayana Buddhism with its
emphasis on giving your own life as a kind of ransom for others' was
accelerated through contact with the Christian gospels. Maybe there
were a whole lot more connections than we thought, indeed, interdependence...
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